THE WORLD AROUND US
 
Basilica of Saint Stephen in Budapest, Hungary (In Hungarian)      
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Today’s The World Around Us will be presented in Hungarian, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, (Italian,) Korean, Malay, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

Greetings to our noble viewers. Looking up at the Basilica of Saint Stephen you may be impressed by its sheer grandness. Indeed, you are beholding the largest Roman Catholic Church in Budapest, the capital city of Hungary. Towering at the height of 96 meters, it can accommodate as many as 8,500 people.

Please join us today on The World Around Us, as we explore the Basilica of Saint Stephen, named in honor of Hungary’s first Christian king. This expansive and grand basilica stands in a spacious and beautifully decorated square, offering an opportunity to her visitors to appreciate the grandeur of her architecture.

Two grand columns grace the façade of the holy church as its elegant and impressive dome, accompanied by two bell towers on each side, rises high into the sky, visible from every corner of the city. The initial designs of Saint Stephen’s Basilica were created in 1845. The construction of the basilica, which features neoclassical and neo-Renaissance styles, began in 1851.

However, it took 60 years, two époques (Classicism and Eclecticism) and three leading architects – József Hild, Miklós Ybl and József Krauser – to finish the project. Completion was hindered by the collapse of the dome in 1868, after which the building had to start afresh. Massive foundations were required due to the proximity of the Danube River; this resulted in a large three-story underground cellar that almost expands to the size of the whole building.

By the time of its completion in 1905, the church was considered to be so well-built that important documents and treasured artworks were kept in the cellar for safety during times of instability. There are six bells in total in the Basilica, one of them weighing 9 tons, giving it the status of the country's largest bell. It was made in 1990 and rings only twice a year, on St. Stephen’s Day, August 20 at 5 PM and New Year's Eve at midnight.

Upon approaching this magnificent building, the bust of Saint Stephen, after whom the church is named, watches over visitors above the main entrance. Saint Stephen of Hungary, also known as St. Stephen the Great, is regarded as the first king to bring unity and a sense of nationhood to Hungary. This highly respected king was born around 975, the son of Geza, a Magyar chieftain.

Stephen inherited strength and wisdom from his father, and his mother Sarolta sowed the seeds of Christian faith in his heart at an early age. As a young man, he often dressed as a missionary to accompany Christian preachers to share the holy teachings and devoted himself to the religious discipline.

In 997, after succeeding his father, Stephen became king, and continually, he dedicated much of his reign to promoting Christianity. During his entire life from the late 900s to 1038, his endeavors brought together both the nomadic Hungarian tribes and later the Western and Eastern European empires of his era. The cross and crown that he received from Pope Sylvester II are now revered as symbols of the Hungarian nationhood. On August 20, 1083, Stephen was canonized and became the patron of Hungary.

Besides being a dedicated believer, Saint Stephen was a caring king and often disguised himself to get closer to his people in order to find out their needs. It is said that he never refused any plea of alms from the poor. One story tells that once the king was jostled by a crowd of beggars, but he just laughed about it and didn’t withdraw from mixing with the public, even when risking his own dignity and safety.

Moreover, this holy king is memorialized as a peace-loving ruler; history recorded that he discussed the terms of a truce to settle a conflict with a neighboring country. For being a noble example of a devotee of God and a merciful, wise ruler, the beloved Saint Stephen is highly thought of as the ideal Christian king. Additionally, the king is also known as a loving father. His famous advice to his son had been a piece of classical reading:

My beloved son, delight of my heart, hope of your posterity, I pray, I command, that at every time and in everything, strengthened by your devotion to me, you may show favor not only to relations and kin, or to the most eminent, be they leaders or rich men or neighbors or fellow countrymen, but also to foreigners and to all who come to you.

By fulfilling your duty in this way you will reach the highest state of happiness. Be merciful to all who are suffering violence, keeping always in your heart the example of the Lord who said, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”

Be patient with everyone, not only with the powerful, but also with the weak. Finally, be strong lest prosperity lift you up to much or adversity cast you down. Be humble in this life, that God may raise you up in the next. Be truly moderate and do not punish or condemn anyone immoderately. Be gentle so that you may never oppose justice. Be honorable so that you may never voluntarily bring disgrace upon anyone. Be chaste so that you may avoid all the foulness of lust like the pangs of death.

All these virtues I have noted above make up the royal crown, and without them no one is fit to rule here on Earth or attain to the heavenly kingdom.” Please stay tuned to The World Around Us on Supreme Master Television, we will be back soon.

Welcome back to The World Around Us. You are watching our show about the Basilica of Saint Stephen in Budapest, Hungary. Although it is unusual to find the statue of a person on the main altar of any basilica, the Basilica of Saint Stephen was given special Papal permission to display the church’s patron saint.

To this day, many still visit the Basilica’s high altar, where the popular Saint Stephen is depicted in a brilliant statue carved from Carrara marble by Alajos Stróbl. At this monument, the archangel Gabriel holds the Holy Crown above the king’s head. Also in the Basilica one may see Hungary’s most precious relic, which is that of the beloved saint’s right fist, known as the Holy Right. This is kept in the dark of an ornate glass cabinet located in a small chapel called the Chapel of the Holy Right Hand, to the left of the high altar.

Every year on August 20, the day of his canonization, the Holy Right is carried around the Basilica in a procession. Walking around in the vast Basilica of Saint Stephen offers an impressive and unique experience to people as they enjoy the beauty of a harmonious combination of color, shape, light, space, and holy atmosphere.

The amazingly elaborate interior of the Basilica is full of masterpieces of art contributed by the nation’s most outstanding sculptors and painters of their times. There are also approximately 50 different types of marble decorated chapels. A fresco of God the Father, on the ceiling of the center cupola, overlooks the whole grand structure.

A symbolic image of Saint Stephen may be found on a painting on the second side-altar to the right of the main entrance. This shows Saint Stephen offering the Hungarian crown to the Holy Mother Mary, and was created by Gyula Benczúr.

On January 1, 2000, as the most important part of an event celebrating the 1,000th anniversary of the nation’s establishment, the Holy Crown was moved to the building of the Hungarian Parliament from the Hungarian National Museum. On this special occasion, thousands of Hungarians stood along the procession route to witness and worship the significant sacred national treasure.

The other treasured paintings in the Basilica include Christ on the Calvary by Gyula Stettka; a picture of St. Joseph by Árpád Feszty; and images above the gate of Jesus blessing the people. Along with many of its magnificent art works on the walls of both the exterior and interior, there are statues of holy saints.

For example, the Twelve Apostles can be seen on the exterior wall of the apse. Also, on the outside of the dome stands the Four Evangelists. Inside the Basilica of Saint Stephen, one can find 15 statues of saints. Among those internationally known holy figures, the statues include Hungarian saints such as St. Elizabeth of the Árpád House by Karoly Senyei, and St. Laszlo by János Fadrusz.

Saint Laszlo was a national hero to Hungarians and also the king of the nation between 1077 and 1095. He is well remembered for his tolerance towards others’ religious beliefs and having a noble nature of hospitality and forgiveness. Once, during a battle defending his country and people, he called his soldiers to save the lives of people on the opposing side and to give them another chance to be converted to righteousness so that their souls could be saved eternally.

Saint Elisabeth was the daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary. She was born in 1207 and later married Louis of Thuringia. This compassionate princess dedicated her life entirely to serving others; making the humble and those in need happy was her biggest joy.

She gave away all her jewelry and dresses to support the poor and always visited the sick in their homes. She even built a hospital adjacent to her family’s castle, where she personally cared for the disadvantaged and sick. After her husband passed on in a war, she renounced the world and joined the order of St. Francis.

Basilica of Saint Stephen is often referred to as a must-see site of Budapest and a fine place to contemplate the noble examples of the great saints. It is also a grand museum of masterpieces in appreciation of the great masters of art. At the top of its dome, visitors are able to enjoy the best panoramic view of the beautiful city of Budapest.

Moreover, every summer, the Basilica regularly hosts evening organ concerts which are a great opportunity to enjoy sublime classical music.. May all enjoy and be uplifted to the heavenly sphere by being immersed in the magnificence of the sacred Basilica of Saint Stephen

Thank you, virtuous viewers, for spending precious time with us on today’s The World Around Us. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television for Words of Wisdom, coming up next, after Noteworthy News. May heavenly melodies grace your days with love, peace, and happiness.

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